As I mentioned yesterday, The Wife and I are recapturing our youth with a stay in our old college town, which has already been a lot of fun. I have to point out, though, that we are clearly staying in the hotel from ‘The Shining’:

Ok, so we’re not actually in Colorado, but, man … the resemblance is eery. Slap up a little dated wallpaper, and BAM, it’s “come play with us, Danny … forever … and ever … and ever ….” Back to your regularly scheduled Bullets …

  • John Sickels does another thorough look at Junior Lake, who, since last year’s AFL dominance, has emerged as one of the toughest-to-peg prospects in baseball, with some folks drooling on the tools, and other slamming the lack of polish/consistency. Is he a future big leaguer? Is he going to flame out? Where is he going to play? Sickels’ conclusion pretty much sums things up: “Lake is a classic tools player who may, or may not, figure out how to use them on the field more consistently. He shows flashes, and is still young enough to progress a great deal, but the track record of similar talents isn’t encouraging.” Seems like that remains the most fair place to land on Lake: ridiculous physical specimen, not sure it will ever be translated to baseball ability at the big league level. Since he’s already occupying a 40-man roster spot, the Cubs are likely to have to find out what they have in him sooner rather than later. Indeed, if we don’t see him in the bigs at some point in 2013 (assuming next year is, like this one has been, all about checking out the youngsters), he might never make it with the Cubs.
  • By the way, and in a keeping-on-the-lights kind of thing: if you want to bet on NFL football and more, check out Bovada. How about that? I got through a football mention without even discussing my fantasy football teams (each of which ended up winning last week after a scoring change on the Detroit defense!).
  • We could hear official word on the Cubs’ Low-A and High-A affiliation decisions as soon as tomorrow, the first date on which teams can publicly discuss changes. Presently, the Cubs are expected to re-up with Daytona in High-A, and move on from Peoria to Kane County in Low-A. The Daytona one is interesting, if only because renewals were possible earlier this week (we saw the Cubs renew with Boise). If the Cubs were going to renew with Daytona, might they have done so already? But if they aren’t, wouldn’t we have heard at least a whisper of dissatisfaction? Perhaps the Cubs are just waiting for the open period so they can squeeze a slightly better deal out of Daytona. We might know tomorrow.
  • 2012 first round pick Albert Almora got the Wrigley Field treatment yesterday, taking batting practice with the team, meeting folks, touring the stadium, etc. Almora had excellent things to say about his trip, and seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the experience. Big-time Cuban signee Jorge Soler will get the same treatment today.
  • Starlin Castro is starting to make pitcher-by-pitcher adjustments in his plate approach, including ditching his high leg kick against “nasty” pitchers because he doesn’t want to be late on their stuff. He credits the dropped leg kick with his homer yesterday off of Jared Hughes, but noted that he doesn’t plan on dropping it altogether. “I’ve been doing my leg kick all my life,” he said, per Carrie Muskat. “I got 200 hits last year with the leg kick. I know it can work but I don’t want to be thinking too much.” Baby steps.
  • Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson both returned to the starting lineup yesterday, each noting that they felt sore, but not “injured.” The Cubs really caught a couple breaks on those ugly collisions – not because winning right now is of critical importance, but because the development time (and a healthy offseason) IS of critical importance.
  • Theo Epstein spoke to the media yesterday, and his thoughts will get its own post, but, in the interim, you can surmise the gist: no shortcuts, tough season, could be more tough seasons ahead.
  • Rice Cube

    Hey Brett, I saw some folks linked to an article (I wanna say it was by one of the Chicagoland media dudes though the name escapes me) suggesting that the Cubs may get into some kind of legal trouble because the Peoria-to-Kane County rumor was leaked so early. Have you looked into that? Thanks!

  • Tommy

    That IS the hotel from the Shining! HOLY CRAP!

  • Cizzle

    Brett, is that the Marcum center? Place is creepy. I stayed there when I was visiting and decided to go there anyway. I think it was because of all the hot chicks…I mean the academics. Yeah, that’s it.

    • Brett

      We’re actually out at Hueston Woods State Park, a few miles out of Oxford.

  • Luke

    Brett, I’m proud of you. You have joined the rest of the baseball world and referred to the level in which Peoria plays as Low-A.

    I would be quite surprised if the Cubs leave Daytona. From all accounts, that is a fairly nice facility and the Cubs have been there since roughly forever.

    • Brett

      I thought of you as I did it. And I felt sick.

    • Drew7

      Referring to the middle of 3 class-A levels as “low-A” is just misleading. What is so bad about A-, A, and A+? Hell, even advanced-A, full-season-A, and SS-A seems like a better fit to me.

  • Mick

    The last bullet on Epstein and his prediction of tough SEASONS to come? I hope he means just 2013 and 2014. We’ve traded away anyone worth anything, added a few top-10 prospects to our farm system, secured a top draft pick, and our payroll for next year is setting up to be sub-$80 million. I’ll assume Theo meant that we’re not going to be pursuing any top free agents like Greinke, Hamilton, etc. but that we’re still going to make some strategic signings that will put us in a better position to win. A couple of pitchers that will come on the cheap and could potentially break out are Carlos Villanueva and Francisco Liriano. You could probably get Villanueva on a 2-year deal at around $12 million and Liriano will probably demand 3-years and closer to $28 million. We’d then non-tender Wells and Volstad saving roughly $6million. Here’s my project 2013 lineup and rotation…

    RF DeJesus
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo
    LF Soriano
    3B Stewart
    CF Jackson
    2B Barney
    C Castillo

    SP Garza
    SP Liriano
    SP Shark
    SP Villanueva
    SP Wood

    With a lineup like that, you need decent starting pitching to compete. We’ll see what we have at 3B w/Stewart, Valbuena, and Vitters. We potentially could trade Soriano and use Sappelt or Campana in LF. Later on in the season, we’ll trade Garza, DeJesus, Barney, and Marmol for more prospects. We’ll then probably promote Lake, Villanueva, and Sczcur to see what we’ll have for 2014. Here’s my projected 2014 lineup and rotation:

    CF Sczcur
    RF Sappelt
    1B Rizzo
    SS Castro
    LF Jackson
    3B Vitters
    2B Villanueva
    C Castillo

    SP Shark
    SP Liriano
    SP Vllanueva
    SP Vizcaino
    SP Rusin

    and 2015…

    CF Almora
    3B Baez
    1B Rizzo
    RF Soler
    DH Vogelbach (the NL will have a DH by 2015, fingers crossed)
    SS Castro
    LF Jackson
    2B Amaya
    C Castillo

    SP Shark
    SP Liriano
    SP Vizcaino
    SP Pierce Johnson
    SP Maples

    The moral of the story here is, Theo’s right, Win-Loss, we’re going to be pretty awful for the next few years but the future is bright. If we can just hold the course until 2015, we’ll have an extremely solid base of controllable young talent with gobs of salary flexibility. On top of that we’ll have top prospects at all levels due to all of the high draft picks, int’l signings, and trades over the next few seasons.

    • Goldcoast cub

      I believe there should be a constitutional amendment banning AstroTurf and the designated hitter.

      • LifePainter

        Good point, the DH allows old, out of shape, players to continue drawing a paycheck and there is no strategic planning with the DH. No double switches, nothing like a chess match on the field. The N.L. Manager of the year award winner is usually a much better manager than the A.L. winner. How hard is it to set a lineup and what for a homerun?

        • art

          it also allows them to pad their stats and a shot at the HOF. guys like Jim Thome will make the HOF due to the DH which i personally don’t like.

      • Jimmy james

        I’m with crash on this one

  • Ramy16

    Mick one ya consistent is Castillo at catcher! Lol..nice work.. I would even go after ervan Santana ?

  • Frank

    It’s not realistic to expect to field a completely home grown team like that, especially when the prospects in question are currently between 18-20. If so,the Royals and Pirates would be world beaters by now. Even the Brewers, who produced Ryan Braun,Prince Fielder, Ricky Weeks, Corey Hart, and Yovanni Gallardo in a 3 year period had to empty out what was left of their farm to field a contender

    I don’t think that Theo should go the Hendry rout, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do any spending over the next few years.

    The Cubs have deeper pockets than the Brewers, Pirates, and Royals, so even if 3-4 of those prospects really pan out they can then spend big to fill the holes, but when you have some of the highest ticket prices in baseball, you should at least try to contend.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Cubs have deeper pockets than the Brewers,….

      One advantage of the deeper pockets should be that the Cubs can acquire veterans as free agents instead of giving up talent to acquire them via trades. Sadly, the Cubs in the past blew it on both ends: they passed over good FAs expecting an in-house solution to blossom and did not trade minor league prospects while they still had value (i.e., before they came to MLB and showed that they either swung at everything or couldn’t get pitches over the plate).

      However, it seems like quality free agents might become scarcer: teams are “gambling” on long term deals for good young players. Still, all it takes is one off-season for the ignorami to start screaming “get rid of this loser” (see Upton, Justin): and the Cubs might be able to use their deep pockets to subsume their contracts while giving up only marginal prospects.

  • somebodysAUNT

    Miami of Ohio is good for one thing.

    Later on that, Theo the Great comp Carpenter pitching great for Boston, has done
    more for the RS than wonderboy has done for the Cubs.

    Auntie says Rohan would rake in MLB, and how bout boy Theo whacking w/o looking,
    96 mph is 96 mph………………

    Miami(OH) Hot babes, not much else

  • Spencer

    The Shining is my fav movie. That picture is awesome.

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